Sunday, March 20, 2016

Selling Jewelry in Art Galleries and Boutiques

I have been selling my ceramic art bead jewelry in galleries and retail stores for about 8 years now. Each one of them is set up differently, it seems, when it comes to payment arrangements, percentages taken, volunteer to work in the gallery or not and what displays are required.  My bracelets have been juried in to a coastal themed art gallery in St. Augustine, Florida called High Tide Gallery.  The owner met me at a bead show and thought my beachy ceramic bead jewelry was perfect for her shop. If you aren't familiar with the term juried, it means to be accepted by photos or in person review of the quality and style of your artwork and designs.

Each gallery or store will vary on how involved they get with what you design for their store.  Some, like my newest one, told me exactly what sea life and colors she wanted for the bracelet line I made for her.  Others, allow you complete freedom to make and display what you want.  Most are in the middle of those!  I live in Florida, so beachy, tropical designs rule here, both for tourists shopping and local alike.  My favorite places to sell are true art galleries attached to learning centers.  Most towns have them...I am in Punta Gorda, Englewood and Venice Art Centers.  I volunteer at the Englewood center 8 hours a month, pay $50 for my display and keep 100% of my sales.  Even though it takes some time out of my studio, this is the most profitable gallery for me.  Punta Gorda and Venice take 35% of the sales and the new gallery takes 50%.  St. Augustine can demand a higher retail price point, so my retail prices are adjusted accordingly.

Another option, which is a wonderful one, is selling your jewelry directly to a shop or gallery.  I offer a 30 - 40% discount to these buyers, depending on amount purchased.  The larger the order, the larger the discount.  Reorders are common after being established and can be a great form of income.  There are large wholesale art shows bringing buyers and artists together.  I have been a vendor at the ACRE Wholesale shows and still have wonderful reorders coming in.  But be prepared to make a line of designs, because stores do not usually want one of a kind designs.  But again, each store is different.

Here is my ceramic bead bracelets with turtles, starfish and seahorses, paired with gemstones or wood beads, strung on 1mm stretchy cord.  I triple knot these and secure the knot with hypo cement. Stretch bracelets are popular with retail stores because they fit the majority of their customers.

I hope I have shared some useful information on getting your art into galleries and stores.  If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them.  You can email me at or leave your question in the comments below.  Good luck and go for it!

Michelle McCarthy, Firefly Design Studio


Mary Harding said...

Great post Michelle. I was surprised to learn of such a range of percentages that gallery owners charge. And pleased to learn about how well you can do in a cooperative setting. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us.

Julie Bray said...

Thank you for the post.
I have to admit my stretch bracelets seem to always be my go to jewelry!
Yours are very pretty :)

Roxy Stewart said...

Thank you for being so generous with your percentage with the galleries and all you share! It is much appreciated by all of us I'm sur e